The agency that investigates police shootings says the Chicago Police Department should change its rules governing when officers are allowed to fire their weapons.
In a second quarter report released Thursday, Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority, IPRA, writes that the police department’s use of force policy needs to quote “express a clearer, stronger commitment to the sanctity of life.”
In total, the report lists six recommendations for revising the policy, including one that says police shouldn’t shoot someone who is running away, unless the person presents an immediate threat.
“We have reviewed many cases in which the subject is fired upon while fleeing from the officer,” the report reads. “In some ... cases, [it is not clear] that the subject presented an imminent threat to the officer, or anyone else. In these cases, the policy should make clear that the need for deadly force is only present where the officer reasonably believes that the subject is either an immediate threat to the officer or an immediate threat to another person, or the public.”
The report also recommends making it clear to officers that their conduct before pulling the trigger will factor into whether the shooting is deemed justified or not.
The goal - the report reads - is to discourage officers from escalating an incident.
The fifth recommendation is to require officers, when possible, to give warning before using deadly force.
“We understand that these incidents evolve quickly and that officers do not always have the luxury of time in which to react to changing circumstances. However, the use of deadly force should always be a last resort. If there is ever an opportunity to provide a warning before using deadly force, such warning should be given.”
Finally, IPRA officials say the policy should not allow officers to draw their weapons unless use of force is needed.
“To community members, the drawing of a firearm has a tremendous impact and, as such, is tantamount to the use-of-force itself,” the report reads.
A police spokesman said the department will review the recommendations.
“Over the past year, the Chicago Police Department has adopted several important reforms to build a stronger, more accountable department,” spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement. “CPD will thoroughly review IPRA's recommendations and continue to identify and implement measures that will best serve the city of Chicago and the citizens we serve.
Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him @pksmid.